Close
Process

Managing Color Expectations: Lightening and Blonding

Laurel Nelson | October 3, 2017 | 3:10 PM

Making a brunette blonde can be one of the most damaging processes for a client’s hair. It can also be one of the trickiest. Different levels lift to various shades, including orange. But an experienced colorist knows how to safely lift the darkest hair to the creamiest blonde without permanently damaging strands or ending up with brassy color.

“Making a brunette like J.Lo blonde is no longer done with a single-process bleach,” says Beth Minardi, educator and color director at Samuel Shriqui Salon in Manhattan.

Minardi, who also has her own color and color-care line, Beth Minardi Signature, says she made one shade especially to take level-2 hair to a lightest-brown ash.

“It’s called 7 Ice, and it’s a level 7 with a blue-gray base,” she says. “Put that on level-2 roots an inch and a half into the hair and it comes out light brown with no red.”

From there, Minardi mixes a powder lightener with 20-volume developer into a sour-cream consistency and sections hair, working from the nape to the top of the head using long foils to bleach the hair shaft.

“If your client has super-long hair, she might be there all day,” Minardi says. “This is a color transformation—not a retouch. It’s time and money.”

The client might need more highlighting around the face ora glaze to finish the look.

“My recommendation is to just highlight the hair heavily on day one—all over,” she says. “Then I would have her come back in two weeks, use 7 Ice on the roots and add more highlights. This strategy helps maintain healthy hair.”

To keep the look perfect, Minardi says the client must come in every three to four weeks for a new growth touchup and every eight to 10 weeks for highlights.

“It’s arduous, time-consuming, labor-intensive—and an art,” she says.

But be warned—once you start lightening hair that has been colored dark, it can experience breakage. Minardi says some clients require many appointments to safely achieve the shade of blonde they desire.

“It could take six months and will often lift to a warmer shade than they want, but you must be honest with them about the process.”

Beth Busbee, colorist and owner of Beth Busbee Hair in Venice, California, also advocates for careful highlighting to make a client blonde and keep hair healthy.

“The trend toward healthier, safer products is steadily on the rise,” she says. “Consumers are hungry for this kind of service and will gladly pay more for products that are better for their hair and their health.”

After a thorough consultation, Busbee says determining the shade of blonde depends on the health and condition of the client’s hair. She often uses highlights to blend a guest’s gray and to achieve the perfect shade of blonde.

For toning, Busbee turns to a slightly ash shade to cancel out any unwanted warmth.

“When doing bleach highlights, I tend to start with a lower volume of developer (10 or 15) and remix with a slightly higher volume as I go, so the later sections catch up,” she says. “But this all depends on the amount of hair, the technique being used and the amount of highlights being applied.”

SERVICE STATS:
AT-HOME MAINTENANCE: “I recommend my Minardi Nourishing Pre-Wash, Wash and After-Wash (System 3),” Minardi says. “No clarifying or volumizing shampoos—just nourishing and conditioning.”
APPOINTMENTS NEEDED TO ACHIEVE DESIRED RESULT: It depends on the client’s hair—how dark is it? Has it been previously colored? What shade of blonde does she want to achieve? Some clients can achieve blonde in one appointment; others might need many appointments spread over several months.
TIPS ON PRICING: Minardi recommends doubling the price of the most expensive color service on your menu.
FREQUENCY OF VISITS TO MAINTAIN THIS LOOK: Every three to four weeks for new growth and every eight to 10 weeks for highlights.

More from Process

Process Sponsored by Paul Mitchell Professional

3 Muted Metallics to Try Right Now

March 18, 2019

Paul Mitchell the Color is on-trend with the launch of three new luminous muted metallic shades in its Demi collection—Lavender, Silver and Rose Gold. Pastel hair color is the way to go this spring!

Process Sponsored by Paul Mitchell Professional

Hair Color: Lavender Steel

March 18, 2019

This muted metallic hair color lets guests play with fun color. Add muted metallics into their current color to give them diffused, peeks of color. It’s also a great add-on to a color service and it keeps them coming back, because they feel heard.

Hair by LAKMÉ Educator Dani Poletti, @thehairdpo
Process Sponsored by LAKME

3 Hair Color Case Studies You’ll Want To Bookmark

February 14, 2019

Here are the results of some pretty outstanding work by LAKMÉ USA Educators Dani Poletti (@thehairdpo) and Amy Koepke (@amy_amaryllis). Follow along as Dani and Amy share their on-trend hair color how-tos with deep berry purple, iced coffee balayage brown color and cool blonde makeover.

Process Sponsored by L'Oréal Professionnel

Color How-To: Painted Blush

December 5, 2018

Learn how Sebastian Langman-Kirtley (@sebastiancolorist) expands on the artistic possibilities of balayage by combining several application techniques.

See how @hairbyfranco used his new favorite--PRAVANA VIVIDS Everlasting--to create this pastel pink and magenta shade with a deep violet shadow root.
Process Sponsored by Pravana

Hair Color How-To: Pastel Rose

December 5, 2018

Franco Hernandez (@hairbyfranco) created a rose-toned color, featuring a deeper violet root shadow and pastel magenta and pink lengths. Learn how!

Process Sponsored by Pravana

Get The Look: Mystic Rose

October 18, 2018

VIVIDS Everlasting adds a whole new dimension to hair color artistry and enables pros to bridge the gap between permanent hair color and direct dyes.

Process Sponsored by Pravana

Get The Formula: Enchanted Pink

October 18, 2018

VIVIDS Everlasting formulas bridge the gap between permanent hair color and direct dye. Learn what you can serve up with the new PRAVANA ChromaSilk VIVIDS Everlasting Enchanted Pink + 20-volume developer on a Level 8 base.

Load More